Luquillo Experimental Forest LTER (Puerto Rico)

The US Forest Service Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF) and Luquillo Experimental Forest and Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program have helped organize a series of arts activities, including an art exhibit, artist residencies, publication of books, and other outreach activities.  The exhibit, organized with the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) in Santurce, Puerto Rico, broke attendance records for the museum and won two awards:  1) 2014 USFS Wilderness Legacy Award and 2) Best 2014 Collective Exhibition in Puerto Rico awarded by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). AICA is based in Paris and it is affiliated to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  Currently there are plans to take the exhibit to Chicago and link to the Hispanic community in the area.

El Toro Wilderness Residency, A Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration took place during the month of March, 2013 in collaboration with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness

Research Institute and the Colorado Art Ranch, as part of the commemoration of the Wilderness Act’s 50th anniversary.  After the finalization of the residency and during 2013, plans were made to develop the exhibit “Poetic Science: arts-science approximations to el Yunque” that would 1) bring to fruition the celebration of the research/work for the benefit of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, 2) show the general public the benefits of an arts and science collaboration, 3) bring science produced at the Institute to the general public and 4) could also improve employee morale.  The list below highlights the various activities by which IITF engaged in a parallel calendar of educational activities that used the exhibit as a template for reaching the public via conversations, field trips, scientific demonstrations to teachers and students from all over Puerto Rico, using online publications, an audiovisual presentation and hardcopy products, such as literary books inspired by the arts and science residency in El Toro Wilderness.

List of most significant outcomes of the arts and science collaboration:

Associated Educational Activities:

The exhibition “Poetic Science” resulted from the work of artists and scientists that participated in the March, 2013 residency. And from this exhibition the “Documenting of Poetic Science” collaborative project was developed to highlight how the process of documentation, exploration and research are common to art and science. A series of workshops, seminars and activities were developed between IITF and MAC for those purposes.

  • Opening of the exhibition – All IITF Staff was involved in the exhibition (February 6, 2014).
  • Workshops with middle school student’s once a week during 3 months:  Maria Rivera was working on the piece by artist Aline Veillat; she used it to teach students the soil sampling techniques and the importance of earthworms in the soil ecosystem. María Rivera also demonstrated the functions of the climate station.  Samuel Moya, Maysaá Ittayem and Carlos Estrada assisted in these activities, when María Rivera was working in other activities.
  • MAC Teacher’s Club (Activity of curriculum integration) – Dr. Tamara Heartsill participated in these activities that integrated science and art (February 21, 2014).
  • Art Dreams/ Scavenger Hunt (Interactive activity that integrated science and art for elementary school kids) Maysaá Ittayem participated in these activities (February 28, 2014).
  • Urban Wilderness Workshop- Dr. Tamara Heartsill and Dr. Ariel. Lugo collaborated with artists from “Piso Proyecto”, to educate teachers and the general public about the concept of “Urban Wilderness” while doing a fieldtrip of the green spaces in the city of Santurce (March 1, 2014).
  • Panel discussion with scientist and artist – Dr. Grizelle González was part of the scientific panel in that discussed the book “ Libro de Fechas y la poética de la tierra”, by the Artist Elizabeth Robles, that was inspired by her experience as a guest artist in the residency (March 14, 2014).
  • Panel discussion with scientists and artists about the exhibition, open to the general public. Institute scientists talked about the Poetic Science exhibition (the merging of arts and science in the study of El Toro Wilderness). Drs. Ariel Lugo, Grizelle González, William Gould and Tamara Heartsill participated in the panel (March 26, 2014).
  • “Documentation of Poetic Science” Teacher’s Seminar. A full day seminar with science and art teacher’s. These full day seminar included a visit to El Yunque National Forest.

Written Articles:


  • Robles, E. (2014) El libro de fechas. San Juan, PR. ISBN: 978-1-881723-14-1
  • Robles, E. (2014) Rescoldo Arrebol. San Juan, PR. Secta de Perros ISBN: 978-1-61887-406-1
  • Ramirez Aponte, M., Marichal Lugo, F., Ramos Collado, L., Laureano, J.E., Oliver, M.F., Raquejo Grado, T., Rivera, D., Abruña, F., Mignucci, A., Jiménez Martínez, T. M., González, G., Rodríguez Casellas, M. In press. Puerto Rico Puerta al Paisaje.  ISBN: 978-1-881723-15-8.

List of collaborating artists:

  • Aline Veillat, Switzerland             
  • Jonathan Cohrs, New York          
  • Grisha Coleman, School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the School of Dance at Arizona State University       
  • Dhara Rivera, Escuela de Artes Plásticas of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico                        
  • Noemí Segarra  (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico                      
  • Félix Rodríguez (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico                     
  • Iván Acosta (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico
  • Mariela Parrilla (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico
  • Natalia Muñoz   (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico      
  • Javier Suarez,  Puerto Rico
  • Jaime Suarez,  Puerto Rico

Videos on the arts and science collaboration can be found at:

Extended interviews (12:50 min):


For more information contact Dr. Grizelle Gonzalez, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, US Forest Service, and Luquillo Experimental Forest and Long-Term Ecological Research Program

Program Website: